Once upon a time, the chief caveman of the Ug tribe decided that his guys didn't have effective enough sticks. They just didn't have that authoritative *thwack!* he was looking for when whopped over the head of neighboring Thog warriors, and some of their womenfolk even struggled while they were being dragged off by the hair.
So Chief Ug put out a contract for a million new sticks for his guys. His chief stick contractor put his head together with his chief R&D guy, and announced they could deliver the new Fifth Generation sticks, made of superstickium and guaranteed to have 50% greater *thwack!* than any forseeable enemy stick, for fifty-one clams each. Chief Ug was delighted, and the program got underway.
Unfortunately, the clam harvest was bad that year, plus a new peace treaty and trade agreement was signed with the Thog tribe, and suddenly the chief realized that maybe he didn't need a million shiny new sticks, and so he cut the order to 100.
"Sorry, Chief," said the guys at Stick Dynamics, "But a lot of this program is sunk costs already: engineering the superstickium, planting the superstickium orchards, training guys to whittle superstickium, cleaning up the superstickium waste in a way that won't piss off the Cave Protection Agency... Those are gonna be some mighty expensive sticks."
The Stick Dynamics accountant started counting on his toes, always a bad sign. "For a hundred-stick production run, you're looking at... um... carry the little toe... About five hundred thousand and one clams per stick."
The chief was apoplectic. "You promised me fifty-one clams a stick! The shamans are going to go ballistic when they hear this; they'll be joking about gold-plated sticks and hundred-thousand clam stick whittlers from now 'til when the moon is eaten by the night dragon!"
"That was based on a million stick contract, Chief. Actual production costs are only about a clam per stick, the rest is amortizing the R&D and developm..."
Nobody heard the rest because the chief whacked him over the noggin with the sole prototype stick and stalked off. It did *thwack!* just as promised.
The Chief never used the stick in war again, though: A stick that cost fifty-million-and-one clams is just too valuable to risk in combat. If it broke, the bad press would be horrible.